The Environmental Protection Agency estimates its proposed standards would remove nearly 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2055. (D. Jakli/Adobestock)

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By Suzanne Potter

October 2, 2023   

Local officials concerned about climate change are speaking out, urging the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize its proposed clean-car standards.

The agency aims to ensure 67% of new light-duty vehicles and 25% of new heavy-duty trucks sold in the U.S. are electric by 2032.

New York Rep. Angelo Santabarbara, D-Schenectady, said the clean-car standards are crucial to achieving our climate goals.

“The standards represent a pivotal step towards accelerating the transition to electric vehicles,” Santabarbara emphasized. “They are essential to stabilizing our climate and safeguarding public health.”

Transportation is responsible for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., more than any other sector. Vehicle emission pollution is believed to lead to up to 200,000 premature deaths per year nationwide.

Opponents of the clean-car standards said they could add to the cost of vehicles. Supporters countered EVs save consumers big bucks at the gas pump.

Alex Walker-Griffin, mayor of the Bay Area town of Hercules, applauded California’s commitment to ban the sale of cars with combustion engines by 2035, and its incentives making electric vehicles more affordable.

“We have to keep equity and working-class folks in mind by establishing more tax credits to make sure that these electric vehicles are available,” Walker-Griffin urged. “So that when we make this transition, we’re not leaving out the Black and brown communities that have historically been impacted by some of these decisions.”

New Mexico Rep. Debbie Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, said the science on climate change is real, and urgent.

“Greenhouse-gas emissions are having a devastating impact on the environment and ecosystem we depend on,” Sariñana stressed. “We see effects worldwide. Longer, hotter summer temperatures, forest fires of record size, and number of devastating homes, businesses and land across our state.”

Advocates argued the transition to clean cars will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They also asserted drought, floods and extreme heat fueled by climate change are causing instability across the world, and thus constitute a threat to our national security.